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Do non-human animals have free will?
Posted: 02 March 2014 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 916 ]
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GdB - 02 March 2014 04:20 AM

BTW: Dennett once wrote a furious criticism on Skinner: ‘Skinner skinned’. But I must confess I did not read it.

So, now I have read it. (Yes, it is Sunday, and Sundays are for reflection, aren’t they? When one does not go to church, one can at least do some philosophy…)

Dennett - 09 March 1981 03:33 AM

So if there is progress in psychology, it will inevitably be, as Skinner suggests, in the direction of eliminating ultimate appeals to beliefs, desires, and other intentional items from our explanations. But now Skinner appears to make an important misstep, for he seems to draw the further conclusion that intentional idioms therefore have no legitimate place in any psychological theory. There is no reason why intentional terms cannot be used provisionally in the effort to map out the functions of the behavior control system of men and animals, just so long as a way is found eventually to “cash them out” by designing a mechanism to function as specified.

(Italics in the original)

In other words, it is legitimate to use intentional language, as long as we do not stop trying to explain them by lower level functions. But, as Dennett points out, explaining does not mean explaining away:

Dennett - 09 March 1981 03:35 AM

So Skinner’s whole case comes down to the question: can intentional explanations (citing beliefs, desires etc) on the one hand, and proper, ultimate, scientific explanations on the other hand, co-exist? Can they ever both be true, or would the truth of a scientific explanation always exclude the other?

(Dennett’s italics)

And about the programmer of a chess program:

Dennett - 09 March 1981 03:40 AM

What the computer programmer can do if we give him the chance is not explain away the illusion the the computer is doing these things, but explain how the computer truly is doing these things.

(My italics.)

Looking just at the behaviour of the chess computer one will never find out how it does it.

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Posted: 02 March 2014 06:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 917 ]
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VYAZMA - 02 March 2014 05:19 AM
GdB - 02 March 2014 04:41 AM

I am not quite sure what you are asking here.

Hmmnn.  I thought you would have understood it.
Forget it.

Glad that you also reacted on the more substantial part of my posting. Funny, you and Lois both do that again and again: do not react at the most fundamental point I am raising. Maybe I should work for style… always leave out the last sentence. confused

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Posted: 02 March 2014 06:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 918 ]
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VYAZMA - 02 March 2014 06:18 AM
StephenLawrence - 01 March 2014 09:47 PM

Actions produced by calculations on the bases of what will/might happen if.. are significant (to say the least)

You willfully ignore that.

What forms the calculations on the basis of what might happen?
Remember most of those calculations are working off of vision, hearing, touch, memory etc.

What is that called again?  Hmnnn….Consciousness?
I think it is.

I don’t. I see and hear plenty that I never am conscious of I’m sure.

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Posted: 02 March 2014 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 919 ]
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GdB - 02 March 2014 04:41 AM

For reasons I do not understand you are attached to believing that any account of free will contradicts a naturalistic world view.

I said some of us (me definitely.) refuse(?) to see anything else but a naturalistic account of free-will(or anything else).
What purpose does anything else serve?

So that ties in with my other post where I tried to explain to you that a refusal to see a difference doesn’t mean “not understanding”
a difference.
You should re-read that post.(my reply to your list post.)

It basically describes the fact that your delineation of the “difference” is a philosophy in and of itself.
And mine and others REFUSAL(?) to see a difference is a philosophy too.
So you just listed people who adhere to a certain philosophy.

(yes I know that you can label those two different ideas single philosophies. But they are under an umbrella of another philosophy
when contrasted to a naturalistic(your word) view of free-will.)

This is also why I have repeatedly asked you: “What’s the point?”

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Posted: 02 March 2014 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 920 ]
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GdB - 02 March 2014 04:20 AM
TimB - 01 March 2014 01:55 PM

GdB, The winking emoticon seems a bit arrogantly self assured.  In considering what consciousness is, I include, as you say, “the brain and the appearance of consciousness through evolution”.  I am not sure what your investment in discluding the laws of behavior, in the attempt at such an understanding, is. 

The smiley was only for the connection I made with free will, not for the rest of what I was saying.

I think you do not quite get my point (or I am misunderstanding your criticism). I don’t think that behaviour is unimportant for studying consciousness. Without studying behaviour it is impossible to understand consciousness: it is the only objective entry we have to consciousness of other people. We study what people do, and just as important, what they say, which includes what they report about their inner states. But I am more in for what Dennett calls ‘heterophenomenology’:

Heterophenomenology (“phenomenology of another not oneself”) is a term coined by Daniel Dennett to describe an explicitly third-person, scientific approach to the study of consciousness and other mental phenomena. It consists of applying the scientific method with an anthropological bent, combining the subject’s self-reports with all other available evidence¹ to determine their mental state. The goal is to discover how the subject sees the world him- or herself, without taking the accuracy of the subject’s view for granted².

Notes by me:
1. That includes of course behaviour
2. In a scientific account of consciousness we must try to explain why subjects report what they say. But it doesn’t mean that we must take the contents of their reports as true facts. To stick to free will: if people reported they were not determined by previous factors in some decision, we know that is not true. But a theory of consciousness must explain why they say so, or even why they feel so.

My point is that behavourism leaves something out: you cannot reduce consciousness to behaviour. We also need to know what happens in their brains. So again: behaviour is one of the most important entry points for studying consciousness; but it cannot be reduced to it. And therefore I think also that Searle is correct in his TED talk when he says:

So it’s an obvious mistake. Why did they make the mistake? The mistake was — and you can go back and read the literature on this, you can see this over and over — they think if you accept the irreducible existence of consciousness, you’re giving up on science.

BTW: Dennett once wrote a furious criticism on Skinner: ‘Skinner skinned’. But I must confess I did not read it. Here is a discussion of the article. But maybe you are not a ‘skinnerian’, and it does not apply to your views.

Edit: Ha! Found it. Search for the sentence ‘skinner behaviorism is simultaneously retiring from the academic limelight’, including the quotes, in Google. Dennetts book ‘Brainstorms’ is at Google books.

Gdb, I am glad to hear that I misunderstood your perspective on the importance of understanding behavior in studying consciousness.

I should be classified as a Skinnerian as the basis for my personal paradigm comes from his work.  But that does not mean that I dogmatically accept everything he asserted, every time he said something, as gospel.  As with us all, Skinner’s verbal behavior was subject to its own sets of contingencies.

In the field of Applied Behavior Analysis there continues to be no concerted effort at all to study consciousness.  Even the study of verbal behavior, stemming from Skinner’s “Verbal Behavior” (which Skinner eventually came to believe would be his most important work) there was ideological opposition (that delayed study and the development of practical applications) from within the broader field of Applied Behavior Analysis.  (IOW, it was not just the critiques of linguists such as Noam Chomsky that delayed some practical fruition of our understanding of verbal behavior.)

I bring up the study of verbal behavior in the context of this discussion, particularly because I, as you, think that verbal behavior is an essential element of much of what we call consciousness.

In regards to your point #2 above, the scientific/applied study of verbal behavior has demonstrated that verbal behavior does indeed follow functionally as proposed by Skinner in his work “Verbal Behavior”.  For 2 simple examples, in lay terms, (of the functionality of verbal behavior) we learn to make verbal requests in particular contexts that also include a state of deprivation and we learn to name things as a function of social reinforcement.

[ Edited: 02 March 2014 03:41 PM by TimB ]
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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 02 March 2014 03:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 921 ]
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(See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mY3d0Wg_tFY ). This is an hour long talk by Mark Sundberg to other behavior analysts, so despite Mark being a down-to-earth, kind of guy, there is jargon that will make it difficult to follow at times for persons outside the field, but it supports my above assertions in the paragraph of post 919 that begins with “In the field of Applied Behavior Analysis…” The talk is about the history (a first hand account) of how verbal behavior became an accepted and increasingly integral area of study and practice within the larger field of Applied Behavior Analysis.

The entire post 919 was rejected as spam, until I took the link out.

Maybe it will go through now.

[ Edited: 02 March 2014 03:43 PM by TimB ]
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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 02 March 2014 04:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 922 ]
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GdB - 02 March 2014 04:20 AM

...My point is that behavourism leaves something out: you cannot reduce consciousness to behaviour. We also need to know what happens in their brains. So again: behaviour is one of the most important entry points for studying consciousness; but it cannot be reduced to it. And therefore I think also that Searle is correct in his TED talk when he says:

So it’s an obvious mistake. Why did they make the mistake? The mistake was — and you can go back and read the literature on this, you can see this over and over — they think if you accept the irreducible existence of consciousness, you’re giving up on science.

 

Traditional behaviorism, I would agree, has left something out.  (I would contend that what has been left out is a more assertive stance that consciousness is behavior.  But, of course, this cannot be asserted from a scientific standpoint, other than theoretically, if there is no empirically derived data to support it.)  Also, I would not characterize Skinner and other Applied Behavior Analyst’s stance as ” if you accept the irreducible existence of consciousness, you’re giving up on science” but rather as “consciousness, as other private events, are not readily amenable to scientific study, so let’s spend our time and efforts on what is readily amenable to scientific study”. 

I will look into the “heterophenomenology” that you cited as a technique for scientific analysis of consciousness.

[ Edited: 02 March 2014 04:29 PM by TimB ]
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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 02 March 2014 07:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 923 ]
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Doesn’t a Naturalistic view of Free-will(or correctly-the complete absence of it.) over-ride all other philosophies concerning free-will?
I think it does.
So I see any other discussions about other free-will philosophies as redundant or just exercises in debate or exploration.

For example, I have continuously inquired about the usefulness of discussions concerning the observation of someone
walking across the room to eat an apple.
Especially when it concerns all of the terminology associated with these observations.
Or the points of view concerning these actions etc.
Or devolving into discussions about the evolution of consciousness.
Or what wishes and beliefs are etc…

So far I can’t see what compatibilism is besides: I recognize causality/but I observe people acting according to their wishes.
This only makes me LOOP back to: Do you REALLY understand causality/determinism?(big emphasis on LOOP)
This invariably leads to discussions about consciousness(or zombies, or heads in beakers, etc).
Like I said, we know about rocks and determinism. After that there is only consciousness left. That’s it.

If we had a spectrum graph with rocks on the left end and god on the far right side, consciousness would be all the way to the left side.
Maybe a few angstroms to the right of rocks.. Maybe.

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Posted: 02 March 2014 07:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 924 ]
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VYAZMA - 02 March 2014 07:05 PM

...
If we had a spectrum graph with rocks on the left end and god on the far right side, consciousness would be all the way to the left side.
Maybe a few angstroms to the right of rocks.. Maybe.

  I don’t understand what you are saying here.

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Posted: 02 March 2014 08:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 925 ]
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GdB - 02 March 2014 06:40 AM

Looking just at the behaviour of the chess computer one will never find out how it does it.

To understand how the chess computer “behaves”, one would need to know something about the hardware and how it operates, but also about the programming and how it operates.

But the analogy and assertion breaks down, in these important respects:  1] a computer is not an organism and, thus, although it has “behavior”, so to speak, it is not subject to the rules of behavior that a behavior analyst understands as having been developed through processes of biological evolution (the programming of the computer thusly being only roughly analogous to biologically evolved “programming” in organisms)  and more importantly, 2] The implication is false that a behavior analyst ignores the particulars of the biological entity itself (which would be only roughly analogous to the hardware) in attempts at explanation, and 3] Behaviorist Analysts, of course, do not look “just at the behavior”  they also look at the environment in which the behavior occurs, the biologically and/or environmentally established motivating operations, and events which have historically occurred subsequent to the emission of a behavior (all being potentially determining factors in the occurrence of the behavior, itself).

[ Edited: 02 March 2014 08:56 PM by TimB ]
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Posted: 03 March 2014 03:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 926 ]
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VYAZMA,

Your thinking is such an utter chaos.

I offer 2 definitions of free will:

a. Free will is the capability to act without being influenced by prior causes.
b. Free will is the capability to act based on our own wishes and beliefs.

One is in blatant conflict with a naturalistic world view. We all (you, Lois, George, Doug, Stephen etc., i.e. all with the exception of Bryan) agree that free will cannot be definition a.
The other is not in conflict with a naturalistic world view: it assumes causality, but lies constraints on which causal processes we may label with ‘free will’, namely those where some person’s own wishes and beliefs are part of the causal chain that leads to his actions.

So to be short: you refuse to take a concept of free will in account that is accordance with a naturalistic world view. You prefer to yell against a.

And think about it: if you think that both do not differ, then you should be able to give reasons why a. and b do not differ. Otherwise you are not doing philosophy at all. Just ‘refusing’ goes into the same garbage can as Lois’ ‘I cannot accept that’: it shows just the bankruptcy of your way of philosophising, it shows you have run out of arguments.

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Posted: 03 March 2014 05:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 927 ]
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VYAZMA - 02 March 2014 07:05 PM

If we had a spectrum graph with rocks on the left end and god on the far right side, consciousness would be all the way to the left side.
Maybe a few angstroms to the right of rocks.. Maybe.

On what graph? The causality graph?
Then you will have everything on the left side, and only quantum phenomena a little bit right of it.

Or do you mean the complexity graph?
Then you will have humans pretty far right.

Or do you mean the complexity of behaviour graph?
Then also you will have humans pretty far right.

Or do you mean the ability-to-anticipate-the-future graph?
Again: you will have humans pretty far right.

Or do you mean the consciousness graph?
Again: you will have humans pretty far right.

Your comparison shows how little you understand of the topic. Consciousness is just as caused as everything else, so it will not even be one single ångström to the right on the causality graph.

[ Edited: 03 March 2014 05:53 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 03 March 2014 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 928 ]
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GdB - 03 March 2014 05:18 AM

Your comparison show how little you understand of the topic. Consciousness is just as caused as everything else, so it will not even be one single ångström to the right on the causality graph.

No kidding!  I told you once before that our determinism is no different than a rock’s.
Then you said it was very different.(I’ll find the quote if I have to….)
You said we were different than rocks!! Rocks don’t act according to their own wishes. That’s what you said.
Now you’re using my own visualizations(graph) to try to explain to me that I don’t understand that rocks and consciousness
are equally determined.

I said “maybe” consciousness was a little to the right. Maybe!
I was going to put a disclaimer that that was merely “license”.  A slight flair to my graph and my point.
It appears I should have.

I see you ignored the main thrust of my points concerning your philosophies and how they are nothing more than philosophies.
The “difference” factors etc. Philosophies! Nothing else.

That’s my graph GdB. Don’t go using it again. You’ll botch the clarity of that up too!

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Posted: 03 March 2014 06:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 929 ]
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GdB - 03 March 2014 03:39 AM

VYAZMA,


And think about it: if you think that both do not differ, then you should be able to give reasons why a. and b do not differ. Otherwise you are not doing philosophy at all. Just ‘refusing’ goes into the same garbage can as Lois’ ‘I cannot accept that’: it shows just the bankruptcy of your way of philosophising, it shows you have run out of arguments.

LOL  So you are basically saying I have to address those two philosophies? And I have to differentiate between them too.
For your satisfaction?

I already told you:
a. that’s simply a philosophical avenue. It’s not one that I subscribe to. To differentiate between the two is to subscribe to some philosophy that you like.  I don’t like it. I don’t have to differentiate between the two.

b. A naturalistic view overrides both of those ideas. It makes differentiating between those two statements completely unnecessary.

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Posted: 03 March 2014 06:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 930 ]
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TimB - 02 March 2014 07:50 PM
VYAZMA - 02 March 2014 07:05 PM

...
If we had a spectrum graph with rocks on the left end and god on the far right side, consciousness would be all the way to the left side.
Maybe a few angstroms to the right of rocks.. Maybe.

  I don’t understand what you are saying here.

I’m out of time.  I’ll come back to this Tim.

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